Child trauma-recovery requires safety, support & love

Media Release

Shelter staff from across Alberta receive training on the science of trauma intervention. 

July 10th, 2018

Edmonton, AB -  The Alberta Council of Women's Shelters (ACWS) today welcomed 45 shelter staff from central and northern Alberta to a two-day training event on the science and practice of trauma recovery.*  The newly updated 'Children's Curriculum' was developed to support staff in women's shelters.  Shelter staff provide loving care to children and mothers who have experienced the trauma of domestic violence and may also have experienced other traumatic events including war, forced migration or the impact of colonial policies.

In recent years the scientific understanding of brain development and traumatic events has grown exponentially to demonstrate both the impact of trauma on the developing brain but also the possibility of recovery. 

Speaking today Ian Wheeliker, ACWS Director of Programs will say,

"Brain development of children who face abuse, or have witnessed the abuse of their mother, may be adversely impacted, contributing to educational, social and health challenges throughout their lifetime."

He will continue,

"Interventions provided by women's shelters can help mitigate the impact of trauma on children.  Shelters provide a safe, loving and supportive environment for children and their mothers.  Shelter staff support mothers to better understand the impact of trauma on their children.  Children and mothers both develop strategies and skills to support their healing journey." 

This training provides shelter child care staff with information on the most recent scientific developments and practical tools for them to use with children and mothers.  

Around 5,000 children enter women's shelter every year, most of them under the age of 8.  Shelters offer a range of supports that may include child care, mother-child support groups, play therapy and trauma-informed playrooms.  Children have also benefited from the Government of Alberta's 2015 injection of $15 million which included limited support for trauma-informed children's programming.  

Ian Wheeliker will conclude,

"A significant new investment is required to meet the extremely high demand for services, including funds earmarked for child-trauma intervention.  Such an investment will create enormous long-term benefits in our health and education systems.  Such an investment will ensure shelters can create safe spaces for mothers and children to heal together."


For further information please contact:

Eoin Murray
Communications & Partnerships Advisor

Notes for Editors



The new children's curriculum was commissioned by ACWS and developed by Dr. Dawn Clark, Director of the Centre for Child Well-Being in Mount Royal University.  Funding was provided by the Government of Alberta and by a grant from the IODE.

* Shelters from northern and central Alberta will participate in the Edmonton training on July 10th and 11th.  Shelter staff from southern Alberta will participate in training in Calgary on July 17th and 18th.

ACWS has developed an Inventory of Promising Practices on protection and support for children exposed to domestic violence freely available to service providers.

The Alberta Council of Women's Shelters includes 35 member organizations from throughout the province providing both emergency and second-stage (long-term) care for women, children and seniors facing abuse.

ACWS Charitable registration: #118780634RR0001